Informal Politics in Turkey During the Ozal Era (1983-1989)
The use of informal politics, which have always remained as an integral part of the Turkish politics, highly increased during the rule of Üzal governments in the 1980s. In addition to those that have been widely used throughout the republican era, such as neopatrimonialism, clientelism and corruption, new forms of informal politics emerged during the so-called Üzal decade, such as circumvention of the parliament, violation of the rule of law, the involvement of the Üzal family to politics, and so on. Yet, the existing studies on this decade tend to neglect analyzing this phenomenon, failing to provide a complete and accurate picture of the dynamics of politics under the rule of Üzal's Motherland Party. This paper aims to understand why informal politics flourished and became more and more influential on political processes during the Üzal era. Taking the broader hegemonic structures into account, which is often neglected in the relevant literature, it argues that two parallel processes of change, which had radically re-structured the socio-political and economic system in Turkey in the 1980s, played a critical role in preparing the ground for the increasing role of the informal politics during the Üzal years. One was the neoliberal restructuration of the Turkish economy and the other was the transformation of the the socio-political system by the military. These two processes of change weakened formal institutions by creating instability, by decreasing their credibility, and by failing to develop effective mechanisms of enforcement. In addition to their weakness, the new political institutions were constituted in a way to exclude a number of social demands and interests. This environment provided the conditions for an ambitious and authoritarian leader like Üzal to turn to informal politics to carry out the reform process rapidly, to represent the interests and demands of some social groups that were excluded from the formal politics, as well as to pursue his publicly unacceptable goals.
clientelism, neopatrimonialism, Turgut Üzal, informal politics